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Redpack007

In your opinion, which is the best RPG or JRPG battle system?

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I often meet people who say they don't like Rpgs, because "you just press commands and the characters do everything themselves" and that makes me angry, because the purpose of rpgs is strategy! play persona 3 or 4 to see! There was even a Brazilian youtuber who said the following phrases in a Persona 5 Review: "In the game you fight, but do you know what you do when you're not fighting? YOU JUST WALK." The video was 30 minutes of him complaining! (No wonder he got a bunch of Dislikes)

And that's why I see companies (like Square Enix) trying to innovate with the combat system where the player has fun, and don't just press commands, FF7Remake looks like a Hack N' Slash! (Devil May Cry style!). and that got me thinking... for you, fans of RPGs and JRPGs, What is the best combat system you've ever encountered? One that wasn't repetitive, that it wasn't just commands, battles where you really had to act and that made you excited! What game was it?

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RPGs are usually boring, because for most of them you actually do just mash A. One game which gets this right is Chrono Trigger, which I think is in large part due to the fact that its combat has some positioning elements. Having positions on the battlefield is intuitive but adds immeasurable depth.

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I actually really like simple and sometimes primitive  games for their speed and readability

Best in an RPG usually boils down to lot of related things - best charather progression (ala buildporn/skillltree stuff), best actual combat, and best encounter design (many great battle systems wasted because enemies are too weak for involving yourselfs in their potential) 

I think for me with JRPGs

SMT: 3 Nocturne - you can argue that game over on main chaather death is a problem (even though their are revive spells, your allies cannot use them on you, only you on them) Otherwise it probbably has the most strengths and fewest weaknesses of the Atlus games - Stacking Buffs / outright reflection, changing team throughout the game both for simple power, and also to shuffle weaknesses (mostly to optional bossses) 

Shadow Hearts : Covenant - very system heavy, but the thing that is most obvious is the timing system (Paper Mario /Legend of Dragoon)... however it is variable based on equipped choice, you CAN take a slow moving ring to kind of bypass it  or go high risk high reward with a really narrow fast one. Equipment choices are sometimes pretty low, though.

Vagrant Story - Very Unique single charather RPG - Con - insanely slow menu load time, unfriendly to blind players with even 1 change in skills/weapon sometimes making difference between single digiting a boss or easiliy killling it) Most people remember it for its atmosphere > gameplay, but I am other way around.

Missed potential games

- Grandia/Child of Light - I love the timeline system of Grandia (and  modern spirtual succesors copying it) but charather development aspect of combat is awful - in G1 it's a "use spell to gain firemagic experience" and enemies are so weak that it doesn't matter... Child of Light has a "Final Fantasy 6 materia-light" system but it's just functional but not special. Both games lack strong enemies to actally demand deep-diving their systems.

Monster Sanctuary - A monster collection game, but with 4 skill trees on every pokemon and really involved ways of how things syergize within both a single leveledd up mosnter or  given team of 3 -- downside any simple "beater" pokemon is fine for all but the last 2 dungeons/bonus challenges, altough to its credit the game does weed out players who don't try to learn how the systems work at that point.

SRPGs / TRPGs - complaints vary game to game but there's like 2 main aprroaches to SRPG "Snappy" and "class mix and match" - A lot of people love the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre, but their job system is flawed in various ways (low difficulty of single classing the game, item based healing beating all magic healing , hard limits to number of charathers deployed per map, etc etc) The enemy also is MUCH further behind the player in these games than in more simple games, as on top of the struggle of unit movement/placement it generally has nearly vanilla skilltrees.  Snappy games can generally do more interesting things on the battlefield (elevation, limited cover system, AI keeping within range of its own allies instead of zerging) but its hard to say how much simpifcatino is too much - a straight attack-defence system with global high hit rates is pretty easy to math out for a human, and you don't want all 12~ of players units feeling TOO alike. Occasional comparision with western games revoves around trying to claim theyr'e not in the same genre as the ONLY way to defend the "real" SRPGs as being good games, even when you go down onto 2nd string games like Shadowrun:Dragonfall,Expedetions:Conquistador,Wasteland 2.. let alone the elephants -- a Friend of mine is trying HARD to sell me on TroubleShooter:Abandonded Children, which might dethrone my traditonal favorite (Front Mission 3)

For me and Western RPGs

Temple of Elemental Evil - It really is pretty much the best turn based tactical implementation of D&D (Knights of the Chalice only serious rival) Does have shortcomings of.... the non combat part of the game being tedious, non-setpiece fights can be similiar (BUGBEAR) , rules violation of Polearm+Attackofoppurtunuity/greaterwhirlwind)

Battle Brothers / Jagged Alliance 2-  but of course they are skirmishtactics hybirds and some people may not consider them RPGs at all.

Missed potential games

Baldur'sGate/Pilars of Eternity 2:Deadfire / Pathfinder:Kingmaker - now as for these things... for a lot of people they are synonomous with combat in the western RPG context.. but personally, compared to other RPGs, the gulf between playing "straight" and "cheesing" is even larger than normal ... and Real Time with Pause automatically prevents like half the RPG community from liking the anyway so calling them best overall is a stretch. I think my real problem is that even though they are all party based.. you don't really "fight" like a party , wizard duels will predominate, or a super buffed melee guy on point will predominate - and after solving a given combat's main problem the rest of your party ... are just extra baggage to manage and if anything, encouraged to be left doing simple stuff (hence the Real time). Minor combats and trash fight really emphasie this of course

Divinity:Original Sin - the status effect everything to death game - fun to think around combat, but game breaks down even in a blind playtrhoguh about 3/4 the way through because the expert skills are simply too much and can end combat turn 1 in a lot of cases... Especially vulnerable to repeat playthroughs where you can have multiple charathers with summons, or will commit even harder to AoE crowd control than you did the first time.

Again I love the primitiveness of a blobber like Wizardry/Might and Magic/Lord of Xulima, but i don't want to move goal post from "best" to "best at what it sets out to do"

 

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Hm... I'm not sure which RPG combat system is my favourite overall, but I can list a few that stood out to me in positive ways.

One thing I can say about all of the ones I particularly like, though, is that they present what I consider to be real challenge. To me, challenge is how much a game makes you have to engage with its mechanics, and difficulty is just how hard it is to physically carry out what the game wants the player to do. RPGs present potential for fantastic levels of challenge without having to be too difficult, but they rarely live up to that potential. The Souls games, in my experience, are too dependent on dodge-rolling and i-frames and raw difficulty. Xenoblade games, meanwhile, are not difficult, but rarely present much challenge due to the MMO-style button-cooldown combat system. The ones that stand out to me are the ones that do live up to that potential, and here they are:

 

1. Final Fantasy 7 Remake:

This is the best combination of action and turn-based combat that I have ever played (granted; the list isn't very long), but I love how there is so much to consider, both in customization and in moment-to-moment decisions, and you do have to make those considerations carefully.

2. Bug Fables:

As far as purely turn-based combat (apart from the action commands obviously) goes, this is probably the best I have played. Customization is very thorough, and there are a lot of decisions to make every single turn: you can pass one party member's turn to another, but every additional turn a party member has has them deal less damage on the additional turn, you can have party members rotate/swap positions so long as no one has run out of turns, with the one in front doing more damage at the cost of being more likely to be attacked by enemies, and careful decision-making on positions and the order in which your party members attack can make a huge difference in battle, especially since each party member not only has different skills, but also different basic attacks: Vi can hit airborne enemies, Leif can hit underground enemies, and Kabbu can ignore a point of enemy defense as well as damage turtled-up enemies. There is a ton to consider in building your team and using your team, and I really like it.

3. The Megaman Battle Network series:

This is easily my favourite action RPG series, and the unique combat system is a big reason why.

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31 minutes ago, Reality said:

buildporn

never heard this term but I actually love it.

Using those three criteria (character progression, actual combat, enemy design) my favourite battle system has to be Bravely Default. The job system and the amount of busted skills you can get throughout the game make it insanely rewarding to fight the harder content later on, like Nemesis fights and the hidden boss. The Brave and Default mechanics make the early game before you have access to any of that stuff a lot more interesting, and while I never found myself using default at all later on in the game, the strategy behind how many actions to take and how to maximise the amount of BP I could regenerate a turn while still setting up buffs and getting in attacks made the late game super super fun. And while the generic enemies are nothing special, I really enjoyed the repeating boss fights and how they both grew stronger and sorted into unique team compositions as the game went on. The changes encourage you to constantly vary your builds and test out new compositions as you progress and ties the previous two aspects together very well.

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couldn't really say what the best JRPG battle system is, but i can say what my favorite ones are

the Bravely series's and the Trails series's (especially Cold Steel 2's) are the ones i had the most fun with, but i must also add FFX, FFVI and... i guess Inazuma Eleven counts as a JRPG as well

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Shin Megami Tensei's Turn Press System is the best combat system I've played in an RPG. Shin Megami Tensei IV's story board the shit out of me, but I still played that game a tonne because the combat was just so damn good. Enemies are tough, but not unfair and the game is constantly giving you mini goals to reach in the form of Demon Whisper and Fusion. Never before or since have I had so much fun just grinding in a game. Digital Devil Saga Part 2 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions are the two other games I've played with this system, and while neither of them I find as good as Shin Megami Tensei IV, both were still quite exceptional (Tokyo Mirage Sessions is let down a lot by the protagonist always being in your party while Digital Devil Saga is let down a bit by the plot steadily removing party members from you in the mid game, which was great for the plot but kind of frustrating for the gameplay).

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I personally find Paper Mario's style of play quite satisfying. Thanks to the quicktime minigames, you're never just pressing a single button over and over to get through yet another battle. Full action RPGs like Secret of Mana and Kingdom Hearts can also be fun, as long as combat doesn't boil down to simply mashing the attack button over and over again. Something a lot of game designers fail to appreciate is the value of dualism as a gameplay-defining trope. Classic Spyro and Paper Mario are the finest examples I can name, where you have a couple of basic attack options and they both work well against different kinds of foes, not just because of "weaknesses" but because of how they functionally interact.

In Spyro, you have the duality of charging and flaming, which work well against metal/shielded and large foes respectively. This allows the game to communicate to the player at a glance which attack is effective against a particular foe. But they aren't just the same attack with different flavors, the way elemental magic in RPGs tends to work; charging doubles as a means of traveling faster as well as knocking away explosive barrels while flaming gives you some range, not to mention can light torches, bombs, rockets, and other flammable objects. Spyro may not be an RPG, but its concepts certainly could translate well into one.

Paper Mario adopts a similar approach with jumping and hammering. Airborn foes can be jumped on, but can't be reached by the hammer, while spiked foes can be hammered, but hurt you if you try to jump on them. Some foes have higher defense but can be jumped on to flip them over, reducing their defense and thus making them more vulnerable. The vast majority of Mario's attacks are built around this elegantly simple duality. Even the special move variants are focused in different directions; the jump badges focus more on status effects like shrinking, dizzying, and putting foes to sleep, while the hammer badges focus more on raw damage with elemental attacks mixed in for good measure. This all combines to give Mario a simple yet highly flexible skillset.

A good Spyro RPG would probably work a lot like Paper Mario in these regards; Spyro would have access to basic charge and flame attacks by default, and could equip talismans or some other trinkets that bestow variants such as the headbash, ice breath, lightning breath, supercharge, and superflame. His allies likewise could function similarly to partners in the Paper Mario series, possessing a smaller yet versatile set of skills as well as a field ability that most likely shows up in their skillset as well.

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4 minutes ago, Lord_Brand said:

Paper Mario adopts a similar approach with jumping and hammering. Airborn foes can be jumped on, but can't be reached by the hammer, while spiked foes can be hammered, but hurt you if you try to jump on them. Some foes have higher defense but can be jumped on to flip them over, reducing their defense and thus making them more vulnerable. The vast majority of Mario's attacks are built around this elegantly simple duality. Even the special move variants are focused in different directions; the jump badges focus more on status effects like shrinking, dizzying, and putting foes to sleep, while the hammer badges focus more on raw damage with elemental attacks mixed in for good measure. This all combines to give Mario a simple yet highly flexible skillset.

I'm in full agreement here. One thing I also like about Paper Mario is the super low numbers it has for an rpg. You're dealing just one or two damage per attack, not several thousand like in other RPGs. This allows concepts like defense and attack boosts to have a lot more tangible meaning and allows for calculation of things somewhat in the vein of Fire Emblem. It's good stuff.

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I like SMT's battle system a lot, specifically four and apocalypse, rewarding the player for knowing enemy weaknesses and having a diverse team is pretty great. The enemies also actually feel threatening, with random foes being able to kill you if you get unlucky/are careless. I find it cool that it keeps you on your toes even in the chump encounters, which many JRPG's don't really do. 

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18 hours ago, Redpack007 said:

I often meet people who say they don't like Rpgs, because "you just press commands and the characters do everything themselves"

This is actually how I played that last Bravely Default game. Sure, I got my ass kicked every now and then. But it's kind of easy once you have your elemental immunities and a healing plan set up. Of course, I kind of hated the job system; but it turns out that the Adventurer gives an insane stat boost and the Bravebearer is fucking broken.

But Dragon Quest 4 & 5 were mainly pretty straightforward, but then again those were remakes of something old and you don't play DQ solely for the combat.

The only RPGs that I actually liked was the Mario & Luigi series, where you actually had to avoid attacks instead of just standing there and being at the mercy of an dice roll like the rest of the RPGs that I played.

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As much as people dump on Final Fantasy XV, the mechanics behind Noctis are a lot deeper than they seem.  But I usually go with Ignis for main fighter, because I enjoy picking on elemental weaknesses!

Absolute favorite system was Tokyo Mirage Sessions, because it became a puzzle later on.  Being able to swap your party members freely in battle without taking a turn meant that I could experiment.

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14 minutes ago, eclipse said:

As much as people dump on Final Fantasy XV, the mechanics behind Noctis are a lot deeper than they seem.  But I usually go with Ignis for main fighter, because I enjoy picking on elemental weaknesses!

I haven't played Final Fantasy 15, but, as far as I know, the main criticisms of its combat system is that, while there is a lot to it potentially, you apparently never actually need to use most of it or think about what you're doing; something about how the inventory system works and how you have time to use a revive if you run out of HP.

Of course, I'm just trying, very badly, to summarize something I vaguely remember other people saying, so take all this with a grain of salt.

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1 minute ago, vanguard333 said:

I haven't played Final Fantasy 15, but, as far as I know, the main criticisms of its combat system is that, while there is a lot to it potentially, you apparently never actually need to use most of it or think about what you're doing; something about how the inventory system works and how you have time to use a revive if you run out of HP.

Of course, I'm just trying, very badly, to summarize something I vaguely remember other people saying, so take all this with a grain of salt.

Hey, that's fair!  There's also ways to make the game spicier, like equipping that accessory that stops experience gain or just not using curatives at all.  I've heard others have found more enjoyment in the game with a level 1 run.

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32 minutes ago, vanguard333 said:

I haven't played Final Fantasy 15, but, as far as I know, the main criticisms of its combat system is that, while there is a lot to it potentially, you apparently never actually need to use most of it or think about what you're doing; something about how the inventory system works and how you have time to use a revive if you run out of HP.

Of course, I'm just trying, very badly, to summarize something I vaguely remember other people saying, so take all this with a grain of salt.

That's how I feel about Golden Sun. The game has this really in depth elemental and class changing system. But you're completely free to ignore it completely and just attack and heal recklessly because the game's super easy.

27 minutes ago, eclipse said:

Hey, that's fair!  There's also ways to make the game spicier, like equipping that accessory that stops experience gain or just not using curatives at all.  I've heard others have found more enjoyment in the game with a level 1 run.

Challenge runs can definietly be fun, but it doesn't seem like the game is well designed if it requires the player intentionally shooting themself in the foot to get enjoyment out of it.

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If you're asking what is my favorite RPG whose battle system is strictly menu based with no additional player input, then I doubt it's my favorite because of its battle system. Strategy may be prevalent in such a game, but can the strategic depth cover every random battle in a 20-60 hour game? No way. And it's not like more actiony games are devoid of strategy - it's usually the precise opposite unless your definition of strategy excludes reflexive thinking. But under this restriction I guess my answer is Final Fantasy X. Though it might get disqualified by virtue of having some QTE limit breaks, 99% of time spent in battles are a point and click affair with no ATB meters so I think it gets a pass. FFX is still the king of turn based battle. Agility directly impacts how many turns you get in relation to the enemy's agility. Most random battle enemies are tailor made for one of your party members in order to drill the player on what every party member is supposed to be doing, then as the game goes on enemies stop being one shot affairs and you need to think for yourself (hey, that's pretty much what the plot is about in the latter half too!). The free character swapping lets you use everybody in every battle without any setup. The sphere grid keeps characters within assigned roles, and the game designers meticulously balanced the difficulty curve around the assumed progress of characters within their grid. There are ways to break FFX's battles, but it's never the same answer every time until you're twenty hours deep into post game content. I've heard complaints that the sphere grid is too rigid in its standard mode, but that just makes it a bigger breath of fresh air when you can finally go off script in the late game. 

In the past year, I've taken a look at the various FFX challenge mods that people have made. They can be interesting at first blush, but it's just so hard to beat the curated challenge of the main game. Every change you make is going to hamper something else you probably didn't consider. The only mod of FFX I want is something to cut out the fluff. Proper cutscene skips without just setting areas into their post game state (because that removes npc dialogue and items), giving all party members experience without having to swap them in and Defend, and weapons with the capture ability from the start of the game. Everything else is already taken care of by selecting Expert Sphere Grid on that repeat playthrough.

But really, give me a game with Mario RPG action commands where each enemy encounter is actually unique and has stuff to learn in terms of your attacks and especially defending. Mario RPGs have long since "solved" what's wrong with turn based combat without just morphing it into a straight action game like what Square has done. By the way, what Square has done is really good too! I just think rpgs have always been a low budget genre and only a few development studios have the talent and resources to put Devil May Cry quality combat in their game along with meticulous world exploration and npc interaction that we have come to expect. I'm playing Final Fantasy 15 for the first time this week, and while the combat is woefully unresponsive and janky, it's still preferable to selecting attack on a menu for every turn.

2 hours ago, eclipse said:

As much as people dump on Final Fantasy XV, the mechanics behind Noctis are a lot deeper than they seem.  But I usually go with Ignis for main fighter, because I enjoy picking on elemental weaknesses!

Hold up are you telling me I'll be able to PLAY as the other members of my boy band? I was having enough fun just ordering them around.

Edited by Zapp Branniglenn

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3 minutes ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

Hold up are you telling me I'll be able to PLAY as the other members of my boy band? I was having enough fun just ordering them around.

Takes a bit of Noctis-only battling, but it's something on the ascension board (I think that's what it's called), and pretty cheap.  Everyone has a different fighting style, so check 'em out!  You'll need the Royal Edition for that, and it's a pretty hefty download if you only have the base game.

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3 minutes ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

If you're asking what is my favorite RPG whose battle system is strictly menu based with no additional player input, then I doubt it's my favorite because of its battle system. Strategy may be prevalent in such a game, but can the strategic depth cover every random battle in a 20-60 hour game? No way. And it's not like more actiony games are devoid of strategy - it's usually the precise opposite unless your definition of strategy excludes reflexive thinking. But under this restriction I guess my answer is Final Fantasy X. Though it might get disqualified by virtue of having some QTE limit breaks, 99% of time spent in battles are a point and click affair with no ATB meters so I think it gets a pass. FFX is still the king of turn based battle. Agility directly impacts how many turns you get in relation to the enemy's agility. Most random battle enemies are tailor made for one of your party members in order to drill the player on what every party member is supposed to be doing, then as the game goes on enemies stop being one shot affairs and you need to think for yourself (hey, that's pretty much what the plot is about in the latter half too!). The free character swapping lets you use everybody in every battle without any setup. The sphere grid keeps characters within assigned roles, and the game designers meticulously balanced the difficulty curve around the assumed progress of characters within their grid. There are ways to break FFX's battles, but it's never the same answer every time until you're twenty hours deep into post game content. I've heard complaints that the sphere grid is too rigid in its standard mode, but that just makes it a bigger breath of fresh air when you can finally go off script in the late game. 

In the past year, I've taken a look at the various FFX challenge mods that people have made. They can be interesting at first blush, but it's just so hard to beat the curated challenge of the main game. Every change you make is going to hamper something else you probably didn't consider. The only mod of FFX I want is something to cut out the fluff. Proper cutscene skips without just setting areas into their post game state (because that removes npc dialogue and items), giving all party members experience without having to swap them in and Defend, and weapons with the capture ability from the start of the game. Everything else is already taken care of by selecting Expert Sphere Grid on that repeat playthrough.

But really, give me a game with Mario RPG action commands where each enemy encounter is actually unique and has stuff to learn. Mario RPGs have long since "solved" what's wrong with turn based combat without just morphing it into a straight action game like what Square has done. By the way, what Square has done is really good too! I just think rpgs have always been a low budget genre and only a few development studios have the talent and resources to put Devil May Cry quality combat in their game along with meticulous world exploration and npc interaction that we have come to expect. I'm playing Final Fantasy 15 for the first time this week, and while the combat is woefully unresponsive and janky, it's still preferable to selecting attack on a menu for every turn.

Hold up are you telling me I'll be able to PLAY as the other members of my boy band? I was having enough fun just ordering them around.

I do like Final Fantasy X's combat system a lot, but the fact that it breaks down so much in its post game is a real thorn in its side for me. They give you so many post game challenges that are meant to be super difficult, but they just aren't, they're tedious and rely on simple tactics that must be repeated over and over again for up to an hour. Shout out to Final Fantasy X-2's combat system. It's pretty great too. Not in the curated sense of X's, but in just how fun it is with how much it gives your characters to do.

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This series called Fire Emblem has interesting positional play, most of the time

  • Final Fantasy X has a great, straightforward battle system that is held back by a very high ratio of awfully tedious random encounters. (Story) Boss fights are usually quite fun, but the routine of swapping in Wakka against Flyers, and Auron against Armoured, and Tidus against Wolves gets old even before the end of the Mi'hen Highroad.
  • FFX-2 is pretty cool because it actually does something with the real time aspect of its combat, instead of the usual "do menuing fast". Setting up chains is nice, swapping jobs mid-combat is nice. It feels like the FFX devs realised that the time constraints in the classic FF games doesn't really do anything so they did away with it, and then X-2 they came around and made attack timings an actual mechanic.
  • I actually like the pausable real-time of Baldur's Gate. Try to draw aggro with your tank, spread out your ranged attackers and mages so that they can run back individually when an enemy goes after them, throw Fireballs in a way that they hit enemies but not your frontliners... It's honestly fun to micro, even though I'm not particularly good at it. For me, the more annoying part in BG in particular is the pre-buffing - Bless and Chant and DUHM and Haste and Spirit Armor and check if Stoneskin is still up and that doesn't even cover the high-level protective spells that you get in BG2.
    But the fights themselves are fun. Tough fights actually require you to keep an eye on where the enemies run, or what spells their mages used (don't have your Fighter try to whack the guy with Protection From Magical Weapons up, yo) and so on... while easy fights can be resolved very quickly just with auto-attacks, so they usually aren't a slog.

I don't play that many RPGs, so this is more "some games that I liked mechanically" and less games that I would claim are exceptional in their design.

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16 hours ago, vanguard333 said:

3. The Megaman Battle Network series:

 

This is easily my favourite action RPG series, and the unique combat system is a big reason why.

Oh yeah, Battle Network is technically an RPG. Definitely the best RPG combat system of all time, in that case. It has both planning and execution in spades, the perfect mastery of both "action" and "RPG" elements.

2 minutes ago, pong said:

This series called Fire Emblem has interesting positional play, most of the time

10/10

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4 minutes ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

Oh yeah, Battle Network is technically an RPG. Definitely the best RPG combat system of all time, in that case. It has both planning and execution in spades, the perfect mastery of both "action" and "RPG" elements.

Indeed it is.

One thing I particularly enjoy about Battle Network is that it proves that RPGs don't inherently need a level-up system to have clear progression. One problem I have with a lot of RPGs these days is that the level-up system feels tacked on, unnecessary, and often runs counter to a lot of what the game's trying to do, especially in areas like the combat system. The Witcher 3 comes to mind as an example: the level-up system combined with the equipment system take a combat system that is otherwise built around preparation and thinking ahead; you know, like a hunter of monsters, and turns it into yet another generic combat system that's all about the numbers.

So, yeah; I love how Battle Network instead gives clear progression by having the player gradually gain access to better battle chips and more customization options rather than having some arbitrary number go up, and in the end, it's how the player chooses to build their deck, and how well they adapt to the opponent, that matters.

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1 hour ago, Jotari said:

I do like Final Fantasy X's combat system a lot, but the fact that it breaks down so much in its post game is a real thorn in its side for me. They give you so many post game challenges that are meant to be super difficult, but they just aren't, they're tedious and rely on simple tactics that must be repeated over and over again for up to an hour.

Well by the post game you're either fresh off of scraping by the final boss, or you've spent dozens of hours following guides online to craft the best gear, Grind infinite stats on a maxed out sphere grid, and earn infinite levels. They can't build a fight that satisfies a party that's at 20% power (where you'd normally be at the end of the story) versus 100% power. Maybe they could have had monster arena fights scale based off your party's stats in a way that the Ronso boss fight of the main story scales directly off of Khimari's stats. But that probably wouldn't stop the Rikku and Wakka Dream team, their overdrives are too good. Let me ask you, have you ever used Wakka's Attack Reels during the main game? It's honestly not that strong until you've ramped his strength way above what his or any sphere grid provides. It can secure a tricky overkill, but it's not on the level of an Aeon overdrive. Ditto for Rikku's mix command, if you're just looking at the ingredients you have before dabbling into Monster arena stuff, her potential mixes are not that potent. The biggest thing that comes to mind is if you've got a stat sphere or level 1 key sphere you're okay with sacrificing then you have Final Elixir for an emergency. Fully heal and fully revive everybody. It's very difficult in FFX to come back from a situation where two of your three guys are KOd, because even if Yuna's alive in reserve she can only heal or revive one person at a time.

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Shout out to Final Fantasy X-2's combat system. It's pretty great too. Not in the curated sense of X's, but in just how fun it is with how much it gives your characters to do.

X-2 definitely is one of the most open progression systems in a final fantasy game. But since the game designers have no idea of the player's power level, most encounters can feel extremely easy. I made it through the game on a setup of two dark knights and one chemist. Big AOE damage and Big AOE healing. I never needed anything else that other classes could provide and the game difficulty never seemed to push back until the final area. I'm also not a fan of how AP gain comes from performing any action - except for physical attacks. So if you want to advance in a physical class you want to do everything but attack, like pass around potions to full health party members. That is at least as much of a waste of time as hammering L1 and then Triangle so that all your FFX party members get their experience from a battle.

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Idk, I'm bad at ranking things. I love me some Grandia (any of the four), though as someone else said, these games rarely reach their full potential. Still highly recommend them if you care about the combat... most of them. Avoid Extreme.
Baten Kaitos Origins is pretty fun and dynamic to me, although once you figure out how effective discarding cards is, it can become a bit repetitive. I'd still say it's among the best out there.
The first Bravely Default has amazing boss battles on the top difficulty, long as you don't abuse Stillness once you get that. Plus you can disable random battles.
Tales of multiplayer can be a pretty wild experience, on the few of them that don't have a completely disfunctionnal camera. To my knowledge it's not something you'll find anywhere else. Makes it all the more unfortunate that they dropped it, though I can see why they would.
Xenoblade combat is very, very fun to optimize. But it is remarkably repetitive even within this genre, and can be kinda slow.
Golden Sun's is another with great potential. Summons break bosses however, and it's definitely one of those "mash A" JRPGs during random battles. Incidentally, it's a spiritual successor to my favorite game of all time(which I won't bring up here because its combat as a whole doesn't stand out that much).

Many have brought up Mario RPG, and I sure enjoy Mario & Luigi a great deal. Wouldn't call the combat the best out there because things are kept a bit too simple for my taste, but everything around it brings me so much joy. Megaman Battle Network(1,2 and 3) I played way too long ago, and can't even remember the best and worst parts of its battle system. But conceptually it was pretty great.
I've only played SMT IV, and while I loved a ton about it, the combat wasn't really a highlight for me. Getting double actions for using the right attribute seemed too forceful, a bit like the criticisms you sometimes hear about the weapon triangle in FE, but magnified. Additionally, while the game rewarded good team building over in the moment decision making and there's nothing wrong with that... the team building itself also felt kind of arbitrary, as you move from demon to demon so fast that I never really felt in control of what I was working towards from one hour to the next. Need to give the series another shake at some point, the writing sure was top notch.

Edited by Cysx

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On 11/13/2021 at 3:37 AM, AnonymousSpeed said:

RPGs are usually boring, because for most of them you actually do just mash A. One game which gets this right is Chrono Trigger, which I think is in large part due to the fact that its combat has some positioning elements. Having positions on the battlefield is intuitive but adds immeasurable depth.

For people who enjoy positional elements in rpgs,  then I'd unironically reccomend the South Park rpgs. No one os exactly buying those games for the gameplay, but its not actually a throw away element. It does some useful things.

13 hours ago, Zapp Branniglenn said:

Well by the post game you're either fresh off of scraping by the final boss, or you've spent dozens of hours following guides online to craft the best gear, Grind infinite stats on a maxed out sphere grid, and earn infinite levels. They can't build a fight that satisfies a party that's at 20% power (where you'd normally be at the end of the story) versus 100% power. Maybe they could have had monster arena fights scale based off your party's stats in a way that the Ronso boss fight of the main story scales directly off of Khimari's stats. But that probably wouldn't stop the Rikku and Wakka Dream team, their overdrives are too good. Let me ask you, have you ever used Wakka's Attack Reels during the main game? It's honestly not that strong until you've ramped his strength way above what his or any sphere grid provides. It can secure a tricky overkill, but it's not on the level of an Aeon overdrive. Ditto for Rikku's mix command, if you're just looking at the ingredients you have before dabbling into Monster arena stuff, her potential mixes are not that potent. The biggest thing that comes to mind is if you've got a stat sphere or level 1 key sphere you're okay with sacrificing then you have Final Elixir for an emergency. Fully heal and fully revive everybody. It's very difficult in FFX to come back from a situation where two of your three guys are KOd, because even if Yuna's alive in reserve she can only heal or revive one person at a time.

Well yes I do use Attack Reels before end game. It's not as devastating as when you get him to max strength, but it is still his best overdrive and he's going to be filling that meter one way or another anyway. Riku's mix on the other hand I barely ever use as it requires memorizing the right mixes, something I have no patience for and the battles are easy enough that resorting to trio of 9999 is unnecessary in a non challenge playthrough. Though metioning Aeons, that's one aspect I really feel doesn't work for X's battle system. Its certainly a cool idea to have aeons controllable and quite surprising they waited so long. But in effect they're just kind of rubbish at being freely controllable. They die super quickly unless you have them shield, in which case you can't do anything else. Because of that, in essence, their function in combat becomes much like what it was before, a single one shot attack. You charge up their overdrive (which raises super fast almost as if they're encouraging exactly this kind of gameplay) and unleash a powerful attack and then they're instantly killed while suffering from cooldown. Either that or you summon them as a sacrifice when your opponent's about to do a powerful attack. It doesn't help that the strategy of using Aeons for their overdrive and nothing else is a pretty surefire way to beat every boss in the game (and of course in post game they still somehow manage to be useless even when they hit the broken damage limit even with tbeir basic attack).

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X-2 definitely is one of the most open progression systems in a final fantasy game. But since the game designers have no idea of the player's power level, most encounters can feel extremely easy. I made it through the game on a setup of two dark knights and one chemist. Big AOE damage and Big AOE healing. I never needed anything else that other classes could provide and the game difficulty never seemed to push back until the final area. I'm also not a fan of how AP gain comes from performing any action - except for physical attacks. So if you want to advance in a physical class you want to do everything but attack, like pass around potions to full health party members. That is at least as much of a waste of time as hammering L1 and then Triangle so that all your FFX party members get their experience from a battle.

Yes X-2's story can be a bit on  the easy side, but for the inverse of X it does have a lot of post game stuff to provide a challenge for the gameplay (and thats even before the international edition. Though the final few enemies in the fiend arena do go a little too extreme on things where you hit that cheap strategy point, but fiend arena was  still a solid addition).

Edited by Jotari

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I know it has been named already but I'll take this chance to again boast the "Tales of" series and the excellent system it had.

I remember in Tales of Xillia streaming a combo with over hundreds of hits and using my abilities to keep regaining action points and also juggling them through the air. You had to pause for a brief half second to let the enemy come down so you can resume hitting and make good use of moves that move your character forward or position them somewhere to continue and the most beautiful part was the easy stream lined system of switching what character you controlled mid battle. I had the item to allow more shortcuts enabled and had to memorize what moves I wanted to use and at what time while carefully pressing the correct combinations. And what made some of these combos come to life was tag teaming. Having a partner move with and switching control. I remember flying so high with Leia and sometimes Milla doing so many air combos. Then when I mash them down to Alvin or Jude I kept just tearing into them. 

Similarly, I tried to juggle and keep my combo on Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. However you couldn't switch control that easy and back then when that game came out, they didn't have certain mechanics in place but it was still quite rewarding to get a 50+ or 100+ combo going with the right moves. And I love Tales games simply cause most of them have such great stories so I got good gameplay and plot to boot. 

As for people mentioning the Paper Mario rpg games, I also quite enjoyed them. It was simple but also filled with room to get creative. Like for example the turtle shell item in Partners in Time where the baby had an input to spin while passing while the adults had to keep kicking the shell. I loved trying to keep my item combos going. Felt great to see high numbers. Half the time the enemy was dead and I was overkilling them by not letting the animation end but I really wanted to see how long I could keep the combo going. 

Outside those two game series, not very many others stand out that were "addicting" so I have to spend some time thinking about what other ones were as fun. All I can say is that games that allow player creativity and have no correct/incorrect way to play are the best ones. Cause then, it supports more unique styles to play a game. I remember this one set up I saw on YouTube of Bravely Default that I myself would have never came up with but though was cool. It involved have super low HP while being in a certain class and using a move that inflicted damage that scaled. I saw Edea and Agnes doing it. It was one of those late game classes. That is the kinda stuff I like seeing and doing myself in RPGs.

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